Artists, Exhibitions, Experiments, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Sighting Memory exhibition

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After several months of experimentation, studio rearrangement and all kinds of work disruption my new exhibition is about to open. It’s a joint show of textile based work with my friend (an amazing and very sensitive artist) Sepideh Farzam.

Sighting Memory will be opening at Gaffa in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday 17 August, from 6 to 8 pm. I hope you’ll be able to drop in and have a look if you’re in town. The show runs from 17 to 28 August and is open Mondays to Saturdays (Gaffa: 1st floor, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000, T: 9283 4273).

SIGHTING MEMORY invite 2 copyHere is a bit of info about the exhibition:

Identity and relationships, memory and emotion: some of the most explored themes in contemporary society. Observations of human relationships: deep, body-embedded memories of personal experiences. Combine these subjects with the re-use of old textiles and you have a contemplative and sensitive appraisal of life.

Sighting Memory is a joint exhibition of new work by artists Rhonda Pryor and Sepideh Farzam.

Human beings long for connection. The ability of cloth to hold traces of direct personal contact make it perfect memory stuff. It can hold traces of body shape, show unique signs of wear by its user, even bear an individual’s DNA. It’s a fascinating substance to work with.

While working across several disciplines as artists, we’re drawn to the significance of textiles and their ability to trigger a memory response. Fragments of old, worn clothing combine with other materials to draw attention to the uniqueness and intimacy of human ties and the feelings they spark. With a keen sensitivity to observation, Sighting Memory explores these themes in an abstract way, addressing identity and referencing portraiture.

Here are a few images of my experimentation and process leading up to the exhibition:

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Each work has been developed using Belgian linen and old textiles, in a reference to painting, relationships and personalities embedded in memory. I like to think of these works as ‘portraits’. Not everyone’s definition, I know, but I think its time for an update.

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Each frame has been individually hand painted to tie in with their ‘portrait’.

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Please pop in to see the show if you get the chance. I’d love to know what you think.

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Artists, Inspiration, repair, Studio practice, Textiles, Uncategorized, upcycling

The heirloom theory

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Donya Coward, Brown sitting Rabbit – photograph from her website

Do you have any artists or makers who do it for you? Are they an inspiration for your principles and practice?

I often find research addictive. One find leads to another. Before you know it you’ve got a chain of inspiration and empathic appreciation for the work of others that informs your own work and sits comfortably with your beliefs and principles.

Discarded materials, ratty old preloved garments, mending, and disparate bits & pieces often have reuse potential that goes unheeded. Memory is embedded into everything. These examples of creative work are very much aligned with my own philosophy and love of materials.

Slow work.

Hand work.

Considered.

Ethical.

I say that (ethical) because I firmly believe in the Less Is More theory.

Less consumption, more human contact, less fast-paced living. Purchase something of great quality that you love, that will last and last – and take pleasure in handing it on to others when the time comes.

Donya Coward is an artist whose work is an exquisite example of what I like to call ‘the heirloom theory’. She takes bits and pieces of very different materials and turns them into sculptures and other textile art that are brilliantly handworked treasures. You can see more of her incredibly detailed work here.

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Celia Pym, Norwegian Sweater – photograph from her website

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Celia Pym, Hope’s Sweater, 1951 – photograph from her website

Celia Pym is a UK artist whose penchant for darning and mending is a quirky and beautiful way of extending the life of garments and objects. In her hands anything textile can be preserved in a way that gives a refreshing and individual twist to its existence. You can see more of Celia’s unique projects here.

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Mayer Peace Collection – image from Instagram

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Mayer Peace Collection – image from Instagram

Berlin designer Christine Mayer’s practice is one I’ve watched for a while. She is superbly skilled at repurposing textiles in a way that’s individual and deftly structured. Her work extends to theatre costumes as well as fashion. Check out her work here. I’m happy to say I’m a proud owner of one of Christine’s pieces, bought during trip to Berlin in 2012. Timeless and beautiful.

I love finding inspiration in the efforts of like-minded creatives. There is satisfaction in finding similarities in practice, using your own resources creatively, and sharing ideas, whatever limitations might be in place.

Who are the practitioners you find inspiring? Does your list keep growing? Let’s compare notes……

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Artists, Books, Galleries, Stocktaking

Ready for renewal

img_4271Noumea’s pristine waters

What a year. A big jumble of highs and lows, moving too fast, and either scrambling to keep up or rejecting the hype and opting for some hibernation. I’m guilty on all counts.

After a week doing lots of nothing by a pool in Noumea, surviving the Christmas chaos,  and with  head swirling with ideas, I’m mending the error of my ways. To make up for my lack of blogging the past couple of months I thought a good old stocktake of brain food might be in order. So here goes.

Some of the most interesting and thought provoking exhibitions I’ve seen this year:

img_2245   img_2180Biennale of Sydney (Chiharu Shiota on the left)
img_2314  img_236721_21 Design Sight, Tokyo (We Make Carpets on the left), and antique boro textiles exhibition at Amuse Museum, Tokyo
img_3112    img_31142015 Parliament  of NSW Aboriginal Art Awards, Gallery Lane Cove, Sydney
IMG_3569.JPG    img_3567Shona Wilson, Arthouse Gallery, Sydney
img_3947   img_3941   img_3940   On the Origins of Art, MONA, Hobart (until April 17, 2017)
img_4147   img_4140Slipstitch, Mosman Regional Art Gallery, Sydney (Sera Waters, left and Jane Theau, right). (until January 29, 2017)

Now for a line up of some of the books I’ve read this year – at least the ones I can remember (in no particular order):

The Streetsweeper (Elliot Perlman). A great read. Loved it. Hard to put down.

If This is a Man (Primo Levi) – again. Graphic and raw. So readable and well written.

The Truce (Primo Levi). See above.

Burial Rites (Hannah Kent). Amazing storyteller. Just amazing.

Dinner with Edward (Isabel Vincent). A gorgeous account of a very special friendship. A delight to read.

The Good People (Hannah Kent). See Burial Rites above.

Thirteen Ways of Looking (Colum McCann). Great Irish writer.

Wardrobe Crisis (Clare Press). Really interesting read on the appalling waste that our clothing mania creates, but woefully edited.

Productivity for Creative People (Mark McGuinness). Recommended.

Motivation for Creative People (Mark McGuinness). See above.

And now the partly read ones (sometimes I do get back to finish that stack next to the bed…):

The Buried Giant (Kazuo Ishiguro). Not happening for me yet…

The Glass Room (Simon Mawer). Can’t seem to get going with this. Characters are cold.

Resilience (Mark McGuinness). Work.

The Art Rules (Paul Klein). More work.

Mortality (Christopher Hitchens). I’ve been lazy here (or avoiding the subject).

Exit Wounds (John Cantwell). See above.

Dog Days (Ross Garnaut). See above.

How Proust Can Change Your Life (Alain de Botton). Delightful. See below.

Fashion and Orientalism (Adam Geczy). Got to get back into this one.

So much richness to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to. So many ideas to process. Year’s end really is a perfect time for renewing optimism for the possibilities ahead. I hope that in 2017 you find yourself inhabiting a space where you genuinely feel you’re meant to be, doing just what you’re meant to, surrounded by people who support you.

Very best wishes for a creative, thoughtful and harmonious 2017, and I look forward to sharing fortnightly blog posts with you throughout the year.

 

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Art classes, Artists, Kids, workshops

Making with kids

I’ve been tutoring my primary kids again this year and thought I’d share some of the work they’ve been up to. They’re a buoyant and happy bunch who always come up with some clever stuff.

Soft sculptureOur soft sculpture workshop covered two lessons and was a complete hit. They were so absorbed in the job at hand and were thrilled at the personalities they gave their creations. No sewing was involved in this exercise – just driftwood, fabric remnants, buttons and string (yarn & other stringy-type stuff) and a little wire. We just wound everything together, tucked bits in and tied knots.

The following two images are from a drawing excursion to our local gallery to see and draw the work at the soft sculpture exhibition The Charged Object. It was an excellent show – I don’t think the kids had seen anything like it. Very imaginative work with textiles, stitching and some left-of-field materials.Exhibit drawing 1

Exhibit drawing 2We’ve also been playing with mark making, imaginative drawing, and watercolour (among other things). It’s always a delight to review their efforts at the end of a session.Coloured drawing

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Watercolour 1A few young artists in the making……

 

 

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Artists, Exhibitions, workshops

A workshop with the floral sculpture queen – Tracey Deep

I spent a sublime morning playing around with native flora at Tracey Deep’s floral sculpture workshop at Penrith Regional Gallery recently. Mixing flowers, sticks, bark, foliage, burnt banksias and other fire-branded natural flora we created enormous delicious compositions before having a guided tour of her exhibition Desert Song.

I was keen to do the workshop because of my interest in natural dyeing. The geometry of the compositions and the diverse specimens were a delight, and it was a real treat to be surrounded by so much native bush while we worked. You can see for yourself how abundant it was! The fragrances were so subtle and lovely.

Desert Song runs until 22 November. I highly recommend you catch it before it closes. A beautiful collection of sculptures with natural and found bits and pieces.

Penrith Regional Gallery


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Here are a few of Tracey’s sculptures. The exhibition shows work from the past ten years of her practice. Beautiful, don’t you think?

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Artists, Exhibitions

Jane Theau: Sunbaking in Oslo

I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented Jane Theau at her exhibition at Incinerator Art Space  last week. A staggering amount of beautiful stitching (that must have taken an even more staggering amount of time to execute) as well as a decent quantity of wit thrown in. Well worth a visit if you’re in the Willoughby vicinity.

Sunbaking in Oslo – Incinerator Art Space, 2 Small St Willoughby, NSW – until November 8.

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